Why is it, that many people of faith feel quite comfortable stating that they have a personal relationship with their god, that he speaks to them, his words guide their actions, but when someone kills someone (or a bunch of someones) and claims that their God told them to do it, they deny that this could possibly be true? Obviously they say, he/she/they were sick, twisted, delusional, obviously. "My God is the one true God and I know he would never do that." " We have a personal relationship. We're very close." "Sinful people brought this evil upon themselves."
How close are you with your god ... exactly? Can you describe your god for me? Is your god a boy god, or a girl god , or maybe asexual? Does your god have any allergies (other than being allergic to atheists and other gods?) How old is your god? Does your god have any outside interest...hobbies? When your god speaks to you, what kind of voice does it have, bass, baritone, tenor, alto or soprano? Can your write down the last sentence your god spoke to you?
Does your god eat? If so what is your gods favorite food? If so, does your god excrete? If so, does your god use the boys, or the girls bathroom?
So enlighten me.
I do hope someone reading this will have a stab at answering these questions, but I am fairly certain the only response will be that they are silly questions, and that I just don't understand their God, or their relationship. The preceding questions may sound flippant to you, the reader, but please do not dismiss them as folly. They are serious questions. If you would please enlighten me, by answering the simple questions above. I'm sure you could answer at least a few of them about any other people you know, even just in passing.
Is your God all powerful or not?
Why is it, when something wonderful and unanticipated happens, it must be god doing his godly bit, but when something horrific happens it is never God's fault? A good example of this phenomenon is when a baby miraculously survives a fall from a three story apartment. And christians claim this is proof of an loving, caring god. When a tsunami crashes into the shore, however, sweeping away entire populations of innocent men, women and children, God had nothing to do with it.
In their efforts to keep religion current, many sects have abandoned a literal interpretation of the contents of their respective holy books in an effort to retain some relevance to their modern day believers. We now have gay ministers, gay weddings, heck, I'm willing to bet that most people don't kill their neighbour if he mows the lawn on the sabbath. There are however many notable exceptions to this; honor killings, genital mutilation, arranged marriages, and Islam in general. Why does your God allow such perversions of his supposed love to go unanswered?
I will choose freewill!
The standard response goes to the idea of freewill. Your god loves humanity so much that it gave us the ability to defy it if we so chose. Apparently your all knowing all powerful, ultra benevolent and super understanding God wanted us to have the opportunity to sentence ourselves to eternal damnation, because the only thing larger than it's "love" is it's ego! Neuroscience is currently doing some really interesting research in the area of free will, and producing some rather unexpected results.
It seems that even when we humans believe we are making a conscious decision to do an act, any act, but for the moment let's concentrate on a familiar example. Suppose that you had a bowl of Campbell's Chunky Soup, now suppose next to the soup, on the same table is a fork and a spoon. Now everyone knows that Chunky soup is so chunky you'll be tempted to eat it with a fork.
So which will you choose? Even before your hand reaches for the implement you have chosen, the neurons in your brains are firing and instructed your muscles to pick up the spoon because, let's face it, only an idiot eats soup with a fork!
Free will might turn out to be an illusion. More research may reveal that we are indeed creatures of our experience and environment; that given the exact genetic makeup, and living the same life. We would make the same choice when it comes to our actions. This could have a profound impact on our belief systems.
Don't worry, I'm sure all us Atheists are going straight to your imaginary hell as soon as we are done here, but to me that just seems stupid. Most Atheists are decent and moral people. We don't even break any more of the commandments than your average Christian or Jew. We are doomed to suffer eternal torment at the taloned hands of another of your god's creation. You guessed it, Lucifer, the fallen angel. Designed by your God specifically to fall, apparently your God needs a nemesis. So it created one, leaving us Atheists as nothing more than fodder for the inferno.
What about my wife? What about my dog? What about my son?
My wife is a believer, my son, my dog and myself are not. When my wife gets up to Heaven the first thing she will ask is "where's Andrew" so the guy at the gate will tell her he's sorry but we didn't make the cut. "But don't worry" he tell my wife, "if you come and stand over here, you can watch them all being tormented for all eternity. Isn't that great!" In an attempt to cheer my beautiful wife up, he will give her a harp. My wife has never expressed the slightest desire to play the harp.
So the next time your are exploring the beauty and depth of your personal relationship with your god, maybe you can ask why it's such a capricious and vindictive prick!
Oh and put in a good word for my dog will you.